Burning Man 2014: Rainstorms Extinguish Opening Day

Event organizers hope the playa is dry enough to open its gate by midday Tuesday

Burning Man
Keith Carlsen For the Washington Post
Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada. Rainstorms have prevented the 2014 event's opening day.
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Rainstorms forced the organizers of Burning Man to cancel the desert free-for-all's opening day this week and ask attendees to postpone their travel plans until "at least Tuesday morning." The roads leading into Nevada's Black Rock Desert were deemed "un-drivable" by the event producers, who also reported standing water on the playa that serves as the event's grounds via Facebook. State patrolmen are redirecting traffic bound for the Burning Man site, and local police are turning away cars at the event entrance and encouraging them to find a safe place to park. Burning Man organizers said they hoped the rains would stop in time for the playa to dry out by midday Tuesday.

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This year, in an effort to reduce parking-lot overcrowding, the event offered only 35,000 vehicle passes, though in years past Burning Man has attracted more than 50,000 people looking to embrace the event's "spirit of community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance."

Tickets for the event cost prospective revelers $380.  The Wire reports that Burning Man will not issue refunds for the lost day, due to its terms and conditions.

Instead, Burning Man's organizers have been issuing tweets of warning. "If you're in Reno, please stay there until we let you know the Gate has reopened," said one. "Rain continuing," said another from a different official account. "Please do not come to Burning Man until you hear otherwise from official channels."

The official Burning Man website warns, "Weather on the playa is often violent and unpredictable. Dust storms, high winds, freezing temperatures, rain – Burning Man has seen each of these at various times." The site recommends "Burners" look up Gerlach, Nevada – the city closest to the Burning Man site – for forecasts. Adding to the confusion, Weather.com forecasted only partly cloudy conditions over Gerlach at the time of this post, contradicting the organizers' reports of rain on the actual Burning Man site.